By Pastor Manda
What would you do if CGS ceased to exist? I mean, if our building burned down to the ground or we lost our articles of incorporation or something drastic – if CGS no longer existed in the world as an entity, what would you do?
This is what I think about when I consider the people of Christ Community Church.
As much as we like to think of CGS as a family or a network of friends who worship together, the truth is that we are a 501(c)3 non-profit religious organization. If we were just friends getting together, we’d be at Janet’s house or Susan’s pool singing songs around the living room and eating potluck on the back deck. Our reach would be limited and we’d probably not have a website, that’s for sure.
Instead, we have a place to come together which is neutral ground, we have a whole operating structure that turns that family feeling into a public ministry. Because we have the gift of an established church, the ministry of our lives can have political influence in our city as well as in remote parts of the world – and serve more than ourselves. We have the ability to pool our resources for the benefit of those in need and to receive the tax benefits and resources available only to an organized congregation.
While Christ Community Church is a church just like us, they do not have access to these privileges and abilities. It has been their hope to one day incorporate themselves as a congregation and gain access to the responsibilities and privileges of a recognized worshipping community. They’ve chosen to explore this future with the ELCA thanks to the support and partnership of CGS over the last year and a half.
How does one become a congregation of the ELCA? You can read the history of how CGS did that on our website. But these days it’s quite different. The first step is to become a Synodically Authorized Worshipping Community (or SAWC – pronounced SOCK). This step begins a covenantal relationship between at least three parties: the ELCA, the Sierra Pacific Synod, and the congregation. It means that together, goals for growth are set, there is a mutual understanding of theology and practice, and support is given. Most notably, the support that Christ Community Church will receive is to receive a grant from the ELCA. This grant, along with their own offerings will provide a wage for Pastor Jared to work part-time as the pastor for their congregation (something he was doing between two jobs up to this point). He will be called their mission developer and he will lead the development of this new mission.
One benefit that the ELCA and the Synod saw when they were considering investing in this new mission was the partnership of CGS. Seeing the benefit of our relationship between congregations and knowing that Christ Community had support, made it possible for them to believe that this new mission might be what God is raising up in San Jose.
We are helping to plant a new worshipping community of the ELCA that does not exist here in San Jose. This is a BIG. DEAL. When we said that we were called to Proclaim God’s love to the world – did you know that it would turn out to look like this? Like planting a new congregation for people who have been marginalized in other Lutheran congregations? What a way to welcome all people. Certainly not what we had in mind when we were talking about our LGBTQ+ history!
I am immensely proud that this past month, our leadership on council voted to make CGS the fiscal agent of the new Synodically Authorized Worshipping Community that is Christ Community. By doing this we’ve committed to ushering the finances of the newly developing church until they are able to incorporate themselves and stand on their own financial feet.
I hope that as we move forward in partnership to give birth to this new mission you will join us in celebrating the opportunity Christ Community is giving us. Because they have answered God’s call to be here, we have the opportunity to fulfill our own mission to welcome them with generous hospitality. Please congratulate them on their SAWC status next time you see them.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.